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SpaceX's Mars-bound Tesla's out-of-this-world view

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As if the launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy wasn't impressive enough, the company posted a live YouTube video stream showing mind-boggling views of the space-suited "Starman" mannequin strapped into the driver's seat of the Tesla Roadster the rocket blasted into space Tuesday, sailing over the blue-and-white planet before heading off to Mars.

New rockets making their first flights typically carry dummy payloads, or "mass simulators," instead of expensive satellites. But SpaceX founder Elon Musk opted to put his $200,000 cherry red Tesla Roadster on board the Falcon Heavy "just for fun."

"A lot of people (wondered) what's the purpose of sending a car to Mars? There's no point, obviously!" Musk said in an interview Monday. "It's just for fun and to get the public excited."

Just passing through... /SPACEX

The live video stream showed the Starman mannequin, with its arm draped casually over the car door, sailing through space in a slow spin with Earth rotating in and out of view behind the roadster. Another view looking straight ahead over Starman's shoulder showed a "Don't Panic" sign where the car's computer display would be.

 SPACEX

On Instagram, Musk posted a closeup of wording printed onto the circuit board: "Made on Earth by humans."

The flight plan called for the Falcon Heavy's second stage to blast the Roadster out of its initial Earth orbit and onto a trajectory that will put it on a long elliptical orbit carrying it as far as the orbit of Mars.

"We expect it'll get about 400 million kilometers away from Earth, maybe 250 to 270 million miles, and be doing 11 kilometers per second," Musk said. "It's going to be in a precessing elliptical orbit with one part of the ellipse being at Earth orbit and the other part being at Mars orbit.

"We estimate it'll be in that orbit for several hundred million years, maybe in excess of a billion years," he said. "At times, it will come extremely close to Mars, and there's a tiny, tiny chance that it will hit Mars (someday). Extremely tiny. I wouldn't hold your breath."

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